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Sunday, 12 July 2020


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Mike, I have visited northern Uganda with a NGO and cannot confirm these suppositions. In the rural areas the diet is relatively restricted, not the diversity this author wants to idealize.
Just another pretty much uninformed person promoting a book IMHO.
Take a trip to Africa and see for yourself.
Rick in CO

[Sorry, that was my fault, not the author's. I just went by memory. When I got your comment I looked up the section in the book again and changed the post to be more accurate. He was referring to a specific tribe. Sorry for my error. --Mike]

It's HARD to get up to that 30+ grams of fiber. I just this evening picked a large quantity, and variety, of greens from my vegetable garden. My usual serving of greens for salad fills a large bowl typically used as a serving bowl. Yet, unless I'm using this resource incorrectly (https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2475/2, I only get a coupla grams fiber.

Thinking about different kinds of plants, do you also count ground pepper, olive oil, and such? If you do, I can get pretty close to the variety recommended. But, at about 24 gr a day, still some distance from the fiber.

[Might have to do with what we eat. He says there are 400,000 species of plants on Earth and 300,000 of them are edible, and the Hazda (that Africa tribe from Tanzania) eat 600 types of plants whereas we eat about 50. I'm guessing that most of our 50 are engineered to be mild (and sweeter) and easy to digest.

It shouldn't be too hard to get above 30, though. For example, a cup of raspberries is 8g, a cup of green peas is 9g, an apple is 4.5g, two cups of cooked whole wheat spaghetti is 12 g, and voila you're at 33.5 grams already. A cup of black beans or a cup of green lentils each have 15 g. I add half a cup of red lentils to both my spaghetti and my rice and beans--that boosts the fiber of each dish by an additional 8 g.

By the way I am jealous that you get fresh greens from your own garden! How great. I would love that. --Mike]

You can increase the variety of vegetables by using fresh herbs some of which you can grow yourself in pots even if your garden is a bit shaded. You do mention spices so you probably included dried herbs in that. Pickled vegetables (thinking sauerkraut etc). Frozen vegetables too can help.

Have you ever considered preserving fresh vegetables for the winter months? (Here in KY, we call that "canning vegetables"). You would need Mason Jars or the equivalent, a pressure cooker, and a place to store the finished jars. As much as you seemed to enjoy the process of developing film, and preparing coffee and tea, this might be something you would like, as there is definitely a process to it.

Tangentially July and gut related:

"And I say your uncle was a crooked French Canadian
And he was gut-shot runnin' gin
And how his guts were all suspended in his fingers
And how he held 'em
How he held 'em held, 'em in
And the water rolls down the drain, the water rolls down the drain,
Oh what a lonely thing! in a lonely drain!
July, July, July! never seemed so strange"

- the Decemberists, "July, July"

It would seem that running gin was not the best way to improve gut health.

Lets see today.. one lemon, blueberries, strawberries, banana, kale, spinach, onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, tomato and garlic.

Now the pricey, vegan nutritional powder added to the breakfast drink has a lot of other fruits and veggies but I wonder how nutrition those space age powders actually are?

Speaking of fruit, what about your beloved peaches? Your peach farmer friend should be able to provide some. Or is the season already gone by now? :-)


There's a lot of pseudo-sciency stuff in this. It may very well be that a tribe in Africa has better gut health than Americans, but saying that it's one factor like the diversity of their diet is not credible beyond even a basic examination.

Are they:
Less sedentary than Westerners?
Are they getting more natural bacteria from their natural environment?
Is the lack of industrial level sanitation leaving them more in contact with bacteria that influences their gut flora?
Is there some natural mediating factor present in their guts that has been removed from westerners guts?

There's a long list of things that would strike me as being more influential than the number of different things that they eat. That seems maybe the least significant.

Quote from his website:
"But wait. How do I know this system works exactly?
Because I’ve taken this journey myself— and I’ll never share anything with you that I haven’t (or wouldn’t) try myself."

NO! The fact that he's "taken this journey" and feels a specific way means nothing whatsoever. It's not a way that someone credible talks about things. He's one data point in something that's pretty close to impossible to pin down.

Talking conclusively about micro-nutrition is close to impossible. We can see what happens if you take basic nutrients out of the diet of a population, and we can see what happens when we overload people with clearly unhealthy foods, but as far as tweaking things at some micro level, you can't get closer than "expert opinion", which is better than non-expert opinion, but not by much.

Additionally, while antibiotics definitely do screw up your gut flora and this seems to be significant in many ways, anytime we criticize them, we also need to point out that they are miracles. This week I quite possibly would have had a dead dog and a dead dad without antibiotics. It's important that we talk about them in that context.

I think if you feel good eating in some way and find that it's helping you in your goals, that's great. But suggesting that there is some secret code to eating that is scientifically proven is not credible.

[...In your non-expert opinion.

Anyway, if you don't want to read the book, don't. Structurally, it's a standard popular diet book, and the only thing that statistically proven to happen when you read a pop diet book is that you become more likely to buy another pop diet book. As always, it's up to you. --Mike]

Does the book make any mention of probiotics? During Covid I have dialed in my kombucha production (3L per week, my kids go nuts for it) and I make a fermented hot sauce I eat constantly. Sometimes I’ll do a lactobacillus ferment of sauerkraut, pickles or kimchi. I don’t think there’s ever a time I don’t have a fermentation project going (the pepper sauce ferments for at least a year).

[Yes, there's a chapter on prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics, and the author, like you, is a big fan of fermenting. --Mike]

I can attest that you are doing something right. When we had lunch last week I noticed the weight loss and that you looked healthier than I’ve seen in the past. Now I’m inspired!

Has anyone done a randomised control trial? That is the only way that the truth or otherwise of this hypothesis could be discovered. Anything else is just guesswork and pseudo science.

Michael Greger was interviewed by Rich Roll for his podcast earlier this year and covers this topic. The discussion made for a fascinating listen.


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